Sunday, October 05, 2014

Pillowman: Black Box at Arsenal Center for the Arts: Now Playing: A Play by Martin McDonagh

Black Box at Arsenal Center for the Arts
Now Playing
A Play by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Joey DeMita F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

There is always this question: do playgoers go to see a play or to see the actors. The FUDGE presentation of Pillowman answers the question, at least for this play: it is the

The play itself is gruesome. It is advertised as presenting murder, torture, infanticide, patricide, matricide, suicide, executions, totalitarianism, abusive police, toxic relationships, mercy killings, dysfunctional families and impossible choices. It lives up to the description which is what makes it gruesome.

It is, however, Matt Phillips and Paul Kmiec who make it an exciting evening event. Phillipps plays Katurian at first as a meek writer then as a madman and a killer. At various times he speaks in the voice of a small girl and on another occasion with an Englishman’s accent. Seemingly there is nothing he cannot do on the stage and as the star of the show he lives up to what a star is. Paul Kmiec as Katurian’s brother Michal provides an astounding performance in the highlight scene when he and Katurian confront each other.

All this praise does not take away from stellar supporting roles by J. Mark Morrison as Tupolski and Ryan MacPherson at Ariel. The two play a detective (Tupolski) and a police officer (Ariel) in a totalitarian state. At one point Tupolski tells Katurian that he
is the good cop and Ariel is the bad cop. But in reality, both cops have their secret pasts and both show cruel and tender sides.

The play itself borrows themes from a number of plays, movies, stories most prominently perhaps, Of Mice and Men. Although it won two best play awards and received three other nominations for best play, it is the acting, not the story that makes this an experience worth encountering.

And one can thank Director Joey DeMita for bringing out the best in his actors. Okay, so
forget the plot, the story, the ending. Go see this because Phillipps and Kmiec are terrific
and Morrison and MacPherson are excellent.

Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle and Author, Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8
Publisher, Muddy River Books

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